Two things happened almost simultaneously this week. That’s when I knew God was trying to get me to listen and take note.
Sitting at brunch with my oldest son, my husband and I were listening to my son’s every word. For us it was a moment of trying to get our feelings under control at the thought of our son moving away. We were painfully aware that this would be the last time we would see him other than FaceTime for several months. And for us, it was time for deep introspection.
As typical of our major times of separation from our kids, Dave was trying to let our son know how proud we were of him and encourage him in his new adventure. We wanted him to know that the move was the right thing for his family even though we would miss them all terribly. Our son was doing the same for us reminding us of all that we had poured into him through the years.
And then on a jovial note he commented, “But there is one thing I think you should have done in your parenting.”
Oh no, the moment of truth and a long pause as my brain automatically jumped to that word of “failure”.
“I really think you should have let us fight our own battles.”
As he talked about a couple of situations, I knew where he was going with the comment. When things got political with their sports, when my kids had a tough time with a teacher, or when they were having a tough time navigating a situation, I’d step in ‘mom to coach’ or ‘mom to teacher’ or ‘mom to mom’.
Oh, no. Gulp. That was me.
“I know that you did it for all the right reasons. I just think I would have been better equipped, especially as I got older, if you had taught me to fight the battles myself.”
And with that comment, I could see the progress I had made as a parent from my first to my last child. My oldest wasn’t telling me something new. He was sharing something that God had been teaching me in the moment. Our youngest was in a battle at the time and it had taken everything in my power to not step into the middle of the situation.
You see, my youngest had been in a situation where he was wrongfully accused. He had been sharing bits of what was going on in his life with me for several months. I knew the people involved. I could have easily initiated a conversation that would have most likely cleared the entire situation up.
But I chose to stay silent.
As the situation became more heated and my son’s character was called into question, my heart broke for him. How could this person accuse my son and say the things he had said without truly understanding the situation?
And everything in me wanted to right the injustice.
But as I spent time with the Lord, He kept saying to me. “This is your son’s battle, not yours. These are the things that will make him a man. He needs these difficulties to make him stronger. Listen to him. Make suggestions on how he should handle the situation. But let him fight the battle.”
Ugh, it would be so much easier if I could just take care of it myself and not be forced to sit on the sidelines.
But isn’t that what we want to do as parents. We just want it to go away. We don’t want our kids to suffer. We want life to go smoothly.
But if we fight all their battles, they don’t grow stronger. If they don’t feel pain, they don’t need us to lean on. It is in the times of battle that they want our insight and will ask for our perspective.
My youngest fought his own battle and it didn’t turn out the way either of us had hoped. And even though I’d still like to “say something”, it’s not my battle. My job as parent is to remind him that there is injustice in the world and to be there for him with hugs and empathy attempting to normalize his frustration and disappointment.
There can be much learning when our kids fight their own battles and there can be opportunities for connection as we soothe their disappointments.
As my oldest got out at the airport to leave, I reminded myself of my own growth as a parent. I had changed when it came to the battles my kids face. And I certainly didn’t see the lessons my oldest had missed out on by me not allowing him to fight his own battles, but I’m thankful that God allowed him to see my failures so that he could right the wrong with his son and the generations that will follow.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
II Chronicles 20:15
Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the battle is not yours but God’s.
Learning to stay silent when I want to speak.
“Let go…and Let God”,